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August 16, 2019


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From the website:


It's what most people say they want. So how do we know how happy people are? You can't improve or understand what you can't measure. In a blow to happiness, we're very good at measuring economic indices and this means we tend to focus on them. With hedonometer.org we've created an instrument that measures the happiness of large populations in near real time.

Our hedonometer is based on people's online expressions, capitalizing on data-rich social media, and we're measuring how people present themselves to the outside world. For our first version of hedonometer.org, we're using Twitter as a source but in principle we can expand to any data source in any language (more below). We'll also be adding an API soon.

So this is just a start — we invite you to explore the Twitter time series and let us know what you think.

Wait a sec — what's that music I'm hearing?

August 16, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

BehindTheMedspeak: Surgery on weekends is hazardous to your health


Below, excerpts from Nicholas Bakalar's New York Times article.

Emergency surgeries performed on a weekend may have poorer results than the same operation performed on a weekday, a new study concludes.

Researchers used a large database of hospitalizations nationwide to study 7,112 emergency surgeries for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, all of which were performed within two days of admission.

Writing online in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, the researchers reported no difference between weekday and weekend admissions in age or gender, the presence of other illnesses, or in-hospital deaths between the two groups.

And among the Crohn's patients, there was no significant difference in any postoperative complication.

But ulcerative colitis patients admitted on the weekend were about 70% more likely to have complications than those admitted on weekdays.

Postoperative infections were 50% more likely in weekend patients, pulmonary complications were twice as common, and the risk for wound complications and repeat surgery was 10 times as high.

"This doesn't mean that if you're admitted on a weekend, you should fight surgery," said the lead author, Dr. Ashwin N. Ananthakrishnan, an assistant professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. "If you need surgery, you should get it. But the question is why this happens — it's apparently not because of patient factors. Is it infrastructure, provider experience? It's important to find out what causes these disparities."

Pick up the medical insider cluephone: every doctor in the world has known since forever that weekend surgery — even and especially elective surgery — is a very bad idea, putting patients at a disadvantage in terms of of outcome compared to their weekday brethren.

The paper referred to above only brings this dark truth to light.

But alas, the authors don't seem to have reasons why.

That's why you pay me the big bucks — I do.

First, the abstract of the scientific paper bringing medicine's dirty little secret into the lay light.

Weekend hospitalizations and post-operative complications following urgent surgery for ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease 


There is increasing complexity in the management of patients with acute severe exacerbation of inflammatory bowel disease [IBD; Crohn's disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC)] with frequent requirement for urgent surgery.


To determine whether a weekend effect exists for IBD care in the United States.


We used data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) 2007, the largest all-payer hospitalisation database in the United States. Discharges with a diagnosis of CD or UC who underwent urgent intestinal surgery within 2 days of hospitalisation were identified using the appropriate ICD-9 codes. The independent effect of admission on a weekend was examined using multivariate logistic regression adjusting for potential confounders.


Our study included 7,112 urgent intestinal surgeries in IBD patients, 21% of which occurred following weekend admissions. There was no difference in disease severity between weekend and weekday admissions. Post-operative complications were more common following weekend than weekday hospitalisations in UC [odds ratio (OR) 1.71, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–2.90]. The most common post-operative complication was post-operative infections (Weekend 30% vs. weekday 20%, = 0.04). The most striking difference between weekend and weekday hospitalisations was noted for needing repeat laparotomy (OR 11.5), mechanical wound complications (OR 10.03) and pulmonary complications (OR 2.22). In contrast, occurrence of any post-operative complication in CD was similar between weekday and weekend admissions.


Patients with UC hospitalised on a weekend undergoing urgent surgery within 2 days have an increased risk for post-operative complications, in particular mechanical wound complications, need for repeat laparotomy and post-operative infections.

Where to start?

The main problem for you as a patient is that nobody — not your doctors, not the nurses, not the support personnel in the labs and x-ray and all over the hospital — wants to be there on a weekend.

Everything flows from that fact.

I feel bad that you're reading this halfway through the weekend — especially if you're doing so from a hospital bed before your scheduled Saturday morning surgery.

But these things happen.


Everyone in the O.R. on Saturday and even more on Sunday — when you don't even have a day off to look forward to, knowing you've gotta get up in the dark not that many hours from right now to start the week all over again Monday morning — just wants to get done and out of there.

So corners get cut in terms of how much time a surgeon will take to do something.

Gee, I've known attendings to not even come in on Saturdays and Sundays but instead give their chief residents a thrill by asking "Can you handle it?," knowing darned well what the answer's gonna be and thereby clearing the way for a pleasant day on the golf course or tennis court.

Meanwhile residents and medical students lick their chops, knowing they're gonna get the chance to do stuff they'll not likely be doing when dad's in the house during the week.

But it gets worse: labs and x-ray are covered from home instead of by someone in-house, which means everything takes longer to get done since people have to travel in to the hospital after being called.

And some stuff can't be done at all because special assays require hours to set up and only happen when the full work force is in place Monday through Friday.

Coverage by every service is limited to those on call, with the rest of the service not in-house doing other stuff but elsewhere out of the building, not available to lend a hand if need be.

And you're certainly not gonna call in your 3rd or 4th call person to get a case going sooner or done faster because that person will slap you right back in the face by calling you in when push comes to shove and things are reversed.

Hey, gang, guess what?

Doctors and nurses are no different — no better and no worse — than people doing jobs not involving your life.

Live — or die — with it.

August 16, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Donald Trump wants to buy the Greenland he saw on the wall map in grade school

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Above, how it appeared then relative to the U.S.

Below, Greenland's actual size relative to the U.S. and the world.

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I'm really surprised the BBC used the map up top in today's story.

August 16, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Best science photos of 2019


Above and below,


a selection from the shortlist of finalists


for the Royal Photographic Society's Science Photographer of the Year competition.


Winners will be unveiled at the Science Museum in London in October.


From top down: Tribolium confusum (Confused Flour Beetle); Calmness of Eternity (Himalayas in Nepal); Safety Corona; Soap Bubble Structures; Upside-Down Jellyfish.

[via Creative Boom and CNN]

August 16, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

55-Piece Real Silver Dollar Jigsaw Puzzle


Videre est credere.

From the website:

Now you can call me crazy.

Since I started doing this, many have.

In 2008, I introduced these "Numismatic (Coin) Jigsaw Puzzles" as a joke to a customer in Texas who was always trying to stump me, and coin cutting has taken a crazy turn since.

With a handsaw and a saw blade only .0021" thick, I cut most any coin into an interlocking jigsaw puzzle.

The very time-consuming process includes hand-cutting one piece at a time, cleaning fine dust and wax off each piece with a brush and Q-tip, and reassembling with the help of tweezers.


I originally sold them loose in a box, but customers found it unbelievable that the pieces would fit together.

I now sell them in 2"x 2" plastic coin snaps.

You can leave it in the case or take it apart, just make sure to have tweezers, patience, and aspirin available when putting it back together.

Each one is 12 hours for me to make start to finish, assuming I don't mess up, and no two are alike.

All come assembled.

Please visit my "Birth of the Numismatic Jigsaw Puzzle" page for the complete story behind my original jigsaw puzzles.



August 16, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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